What I want you to know about my husband's addiction to pain pills

What I Want You to Know is a series of reader submissions. It is an attempt to allow people to tell their personal stories, in the hopes of bringing greater compassion to the unique issues each of us face. If you would like to submit a story to this series, click here. Today’s guest posts is by MMS.



I want you to know my husband did not set out to become an addict. He thought he was doing the right thing. He was experiencing severe knee pain, so he went to his primary care doctor. That doctor referred him to the orthopedic specialist. The specialist diagnosed him with severe osteoarthritis and began a regime of pain medication. I can remember specifically pointing out my husband's alcoholism to the Doctor. Yes, my husband had been sober for many years, long before I met him, but it still nagged at the back of my mind. The Doctor assured me the medications were not habit forming or addictive. These medications were Oxycodone and Tramadol. If I only knew then, what I know now. Initially, my husband took the prescriptions as prescribed and it went well. He was able to interact with his children again and not suffer constant pain. Over time, his tolerance to the pills grew and he needed more and more to find the same relief.

If I am being truly candid, he had grown addicted to the mood altering components and less to the pain relief. I just did not understand that then. I appeased the questions in my mind by constantly reminding myself he was taking a prescribed drug. The Doctor gave him this drug, surely it is just fine. I covered up for him when he fell asleep at church and family events. He was working hard, he was up late, etc. When he got into a minor accident in our car, and I knew in my heart the real reason, I forced myself to believe his story about looking for his sunglasses and running off the road.

I had become his enabler.

 I would try to talk to him, but I could not get through the fog in his head. About this time, the laws in our state changed drastically regarding the amount of pain pills doctors could prescribe to patients. All of the sudden, my husband's "supply" was cut in half. He couldn't deal. Really, there is no other way to put it. He went out and drank. Like a lot. He came home and I smelled the alcohol on his breath. My children had never seen him drink, much less completely wasted, so I told him I was taking the children to a movie while he sobered up. This sent him into a rage. I told him I was leaving. He tried to stop me.

He put his hands on me.

Our 12 year old son jumped in to defend me. Our daughter called 911. To make a long story short, my husband was arrested and spent 30 days in county jail. This gentle man. A man with absolutely no criminal history. A man who rarely raised his voice and never disciplined our children harshly. I compare it to his evil twin coming in our home and acting in a manner I had never witnessed.

I owe a huge debt of gratitude to the medical staff in the jail. They were able to taper my husband off the medication and offer alternatives that were not based on opiate medications. Over the past year, we have worked very hard to work through the addiction issues and heal our family. It has been a long, hard road, but let me encourage anyone going through a similar situation, there is hope and light at the end of the tunnel.

 I want you to know you are the best advocate for your family when it comes to medical concerns. Seek second opinions, research, be very careful if you are prescribed a medication and you have addiction issues. If something doesn't feel right, question. I have the very highest respect for doctors and medical professionals, but it is up to the patient to share concerns and seek answers.

Be proactive and vocal. Not doing so can lead to this. I never want to see you walk through this pain.

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